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Age is a situation of mind over matter… if you don’t mind, it don’t matter. ~ Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige, Major League Baseball pitcher who made his debut for the Cleveland Indians at age 42 and finished with the Kansas City Athletics at age 59
Satchel Paige, the baseball Hall of Famer, was famous for being secretive about his age. The thinking then was if major league teams really found out old he was, they may not continue to give him the opportunity to keep pitching… and make money.
So, how did Satchel develop the philosophy expressed in his famous quote? Because he was committed to physical fitness and able to compete against the greatest hitters in baseball. Age was truly “just a number” to him.
Working as an exercise physiologist for more than 20 years, I have observed the aging process in thousands of people and varying exercise populations, including those in cardiac rehabilitation, post physical therapy, diabetes and weight control programs. A distinct and dramatic line often separates those individuals who age gracefully and have a good quality of life well into their senior years with those who begin to have life threatening medical conditions in their 40s and 50s.
I have heard many people express the sentiment that they would like to keep living as long as they feel good and have a good quality if life. Satchel believed as long as he felt good and was highly functional, he didn’t mind aging, because he could still actually perform many of the physical skills and tasks he did when he was in his 20′s. That’s why aging didn’t matter to him.
Regular physical activity, at the correct intensity, is so powerful in improving and maintaining health that it should be prescribed just as medicine would be. ~ Robert Sallis, M.D., American College of Sports Medicine Exercise is Medicine Task Force
Exercise and physical training may be the the closest thing we have in modern society to a “fountain of youth.” Dr. Andrea Cheville, a Mayo clinic expert on exercise and the elderly, states, “The mantra now is exercise is like a drug, able to prevent and treat a host of age-related ailments.”
There is vast evidence to support that exercise aids in improving weight control, cholesterol, blood pressure, osteoporosis, cancer and sleep disturbance, and in preventing heart disease, diabetes, catastrophic falling injuries and Alzheimer’s disease. In the field of fitness and exercise, this is the difference between what we call a “trained” versus an “untrained” person. Only the stimulus of exercise can change how the body functions in literally hundreds of ways.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. The more inactive and sedentary a person is the more likely their physiology is to breakdown, at a very early age, including everything from blood sugar control and heart health to early onset osteoarthritis and some forms of cancer.
So, no matter what your age, I hope you are inspired to seek out safe, appropriate exercise programs. Even if you’re not Satchel Paige, you can still feel great as you grow older. It’s never to late to start an exercise regimen to achieve long-term health and quality of life. Remember what Satchel said, “If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
At Mercy Health & Fitness Center, located at Mercy Health Center of North Canton, we have a certified medical fitness center open to the public, one of only three in the state of Ohio, that can develop and implement an age–appropriate exercise program for you. For more information, contact us.
About The Author
Dave Faur, MS, is the program coordinator for Mercy Health & Fitness Program in North Canton, Ohio.